Circuit Judge Competition 2023 – The Essentials

“I got it!!!”  – Circuit Judge

***** UPDATE  11 July 2023*****

Thia year’s competition launches next week on Tuesday 18 July 2023 – deadline for applications is 13:00 on Tuesday 8 August 2023 – there are currently 52 vacancies (40 in crime, 7 in family and 5 in civil).  Successful candidates will be informed in June 2023!!

“Your input has been invaluable” – Resident Judge Candidate

It looks very similar to previous CJ competitions and in many ways, this is one of the most straight forward competitions that the JAC run. It has evolved over the years and now successful candidates know what they have to do: demonstrate their evidence of the competencies. You have two panels you need to convince – the short-listing panel and the selection day panel. There is some very helpful feedback, sound guidance and clear advice from the JAC on their website. There are expected to be 80 vacancies, but as with other competitions, the number may vary as the competition progresses. 

Competition Information Page Link


There is a a good deal of information required to populate your on-line application, but most of this is the expected personal details. Most candidates will not have to update much of this – except for the number of days you have sat. Selection decisions are really focused on how well you can convey evidence of your experiences of the competencies.  Plus importantly: your assessors’ assessments of you against all five competencies. In addition, all candidates will be asked to provide a Jurisdiction Statements of Suitability or two or three!

******   Jurisdiction Statement of Suitability  *****

“When applying, you will also be required to complete a statement of suitability for each of the jurisdictions you apply for. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience makes you suitable for appointment to the jurisdiction/s applied for. 

Note that whilst you may apply for more than one jurisdiction, selections are made solely on merit and you will only be recommended to, and offered, one post. You should, therefore, consider your preferences carefully.


 Competition Timetable:

Close for applications, including the self-assessment (5 competencies) and statement of suitability: 8 August 2023

Independent assessments requested: 29 August 2023 and to be returned by 13:00 on 19 September 2023

Outcome of shortlisting issued: January 2024

Selection days: 12 February to 1 March 2024 (in London) 

Outcome of selection days : Some unspecified date in June 2024!!


Self Assessments

“Self assessments were often poorly written and presented.  Despite the guidance provided, many of the self assessments were limited in their content. They were often too brief, contained a preponderance of assertion and gave little evidence under the qualities to demonstrate their ability to take on the role.

They were also lacking in specific examples against the qualities and abilities. This was particularly the case under Intellectual Capacity.  Although some candidates provided examples these were often just a statement with no detail of what or how they did in the situation. Citing the name of a case in which the candidate has appeared is not a good example. It left the Panel uncertain as to the candidate’s role in the case and how strong an example it really was.

Good candidates provided a well structured, well presented self assessment, gave detailed examples to support each quality and did not rely on assertions.”  –  JAC Competition Sift Report

Some Tips:

Form How to Blog      Tips short Video

The JAC have provided some further information to help candidates here but treat the SOAR model with caution focus on your ACTIONS!

Your Assessors

You only now need two. The senior judge from the centre where you sit most often, and one other, but choose wisely!

“There were a number of very strong references that contained some specific evidence under all the qualities; however, there were also many references where the referee provided only general information about the candidates. The references are there to support the evidence provided by the candidate but in a number of cases they did little to add any weight to the self assessment and overall information. It would be helpful if the referees could provide brief, meaningful examples for each quality and ability.

 It would be valuable if candidates could consider the referees they nominate to provide references.  Some referees had little information to provide for the candidate, particularly where their knowledge of the candidate was from a long time ago. A good referee is one who knows the candidate and their work well, particularly in a professional capacity, and is able to give specific examples to demonstrate the qualities and abilities.  The Panels are looking for evidence from individuals who are able to provide an objective assessment of a candidate’s abilities.  There is clear guidance for referees provided by the JAC and it is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure their referees are aware of this and are prepared to follow it.”

 –  JAC Competition Sift Report

I often discuss referee selection with candidates – so if you have any queries or concerns please just pick up the phone.

The Selection Day

A panel of three: probably a High Court Judge, senior JAC staff and a lay member. The first part of the interview will be situational questioning, by the HCJ, based on scenarios you will have been given a short time to consider. Expect probing questions, that can sometimes be pretty robust – testing both your judgement and how you interpret the law to support your decision making. This is then followed by an interview looking for further evidence of how you are able to demonstrate the competencies. They can ask more about the examples on your form, generic questions seeking other evidence or a combination of both.

Interview Blog      Tips  short Video


I’m frequently asked how I work with candidates; I work based on the needs of each individual candidates: application forms and interviews.

In terms of fees, I aim to keep my advice short and sweet; I charge £200 + VAT an hour but under my Pay Fair you pay what you want.

It takes me about 15-20 mins to  prepare feedback on a draft application form. Then we have a session discussing that. Time varies with candidates from 30 mins all in, to several sessions and possibly 4 hours. But on average 1.5–2.5 hours – all depends on you.

For selection days, I typically have two sessions with my candidates and I always encourage them to work with family, colleagues and friends – anyone who you trust will give you some straight advice and feedback.

If you have any questions or would like to have a confidential conversation about any aspects of this Circuit Judge Competition please either call me on 0796 999 7335 or e-mail

“I got the job!!!!! I’m waiting to hear where I will be sitting and for the official announcement obviously. Thank you so much. I couldn’t have done it without you.”  Circuit Judge Candidate